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Will a Felony Warrant Ever Go Away?

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There are many steps in the legal process before a defendant even goes to trial.  One of the first steps involves issuing a felony warrant when a person is suspected of committing a crime.

This blog post will cover whether a felony warrant will ever go away.

  • What is a Warrant?
  • Recall of a Warrant
  • Actions Not to Take
  • Supporting the Accused after a Felony Warrant Has Been Issued


What is a Warrant?

A warrant is an order by the court authorizing a law enforcement officer to arrest someone and bring them before a judge.

A warrant is typically issued when a person has been charged with a crime.  A warrant may also be initiated when someone convicted of a crime fails to appear in court, owes a fine, or has been found in contempt of court.

An arrest warrant is started by a police officer.  It gives law enforcement the authority to arrest a person on suspicion of committing a crime.

While an arrest warrant will not show up in court records, charges resulting from an arrest warrant will appear.

An arrest warrant is issued when there is enough evidence suggesting a person may have committed a particular crime.  If so, a judge will issue the arrest warrant to bring the suspect in.

A bench warrant, also called a capias warrant, is a court order authorizing law enforcement to bring someone to court who has either failed to appear or who may be late on paying a fine or something like child support.

A warrant that has been issued will not disappear.  It must be cancelled or recalled by the court.

The reason a warrant doesn’t expire is that if it did, this would encourage anyone with an outstanding warrant to wait or “lay low” until enough time had passed.

The most common warrants are used by the police to arrest a suspect or to do a search of property for evidence related to a crime.  A warrant is also used to bring someone to court that has missed a court date or ignored a subpoena.

Recall of a Warrant

The statute of limitations does not apply to warrants.  The statute does pertain to the length of time a prosecutor can wait to begin criminal proceedings against a defendant after an offense is committed.

After several years, if a defendant hasn’t been arrested on a warrant, they can ask their attorney to request that the charges be dropped because of the Sixth Amendment that states a defendant has the right to a “speedy trial.”  This applies only if the possible sentence for the offense involves prison or jail time.

A felony arrest warrant will remain open until the suspect has been arrested and brought to court.  In the case of a misdemeanor, the warrant will always be on a person’s record, although it will not show up as readily in court records over time.

For a felony arrest warrant, before it can be recalled, the defendant will have to appear in court with their attorney.  They may have to post bail to have the warrant recalled.  In many cases, they will have to be taken into jail while awaiting the warrant recall.

Typically, the warrant can be cancelled if it involves an order to come before the judge.

In these situations, the defendant will have to complete the actions that caused the warrant to be issued:

  • Paying any fines or restitution
  • Showing proof of enrollment in or completion of a court-ordered program
  • Making any required court appearance

If it is a warrant for a probation violation, the felon will have to be taken in until they appear at a probation violation hearing.

Actions Not to Take

Don’t run away!  As strong as the urge is to flee, this is the worst action to take.

The problem won’t disappear by running away.

A warrant will be issued with an extremely high bond, making it very unlikely defendants can pay it.  The penalty for the original crime will become worse, and felons will have to remain in custody throughout the proceedings.

Then there is the belief that being out of state will stop the process.  That isn’t true. Extradition will be requested, and felons will have to be held in jail in the state they are in for up to 30 days before being transferred to the original state.

Not getting a lawyer.  Any warrant issued necessitates consulting with an attorney to best understand the reason for the warrant and how to deal with it.

Just not deal with it.  Not addressing the issue will not make it go away.  The warrant will remain in effect.

The prosecution will not forget the case or the defendant.  Postponing the inevitable can only make the situation worse.  The penalty will only get worse, and there is the chance of missing a court date.  That will certainly make things worse.

The best advice is to get an attorney and deal with the warrant as soon as possible.

Supporting the Accused after a Felony Warrant Has Been Issued

Once a warrant is issued, this is the time when action needs to be taken on the behalf of the accused.  The defendant will know exactly what the charges will be and can deal with them.

They already know that running away or simply ignoring the warrant will not be successful and will only make the situation worse.

The family of the accused also is now aware of the charges and will have a better idea of what they will be facing as the process moves forward.

It is important to reassure the defendant that the family and friends are there for support throughout the legal process, no matter how long it takes.  Don’t let your family member make a huge mistake by avoiding a warrant.  It won’t go away.

Be honest with them and tell them to face the situation directly.  After all, it is a very difficult time for everyone involved.

So what do you think about this blog post about whether a felony warrant will ever go away?  What is your experience with a felony warrant and what happened?   Please tell us in the comments below.

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